15 March 2018, Fairmont Hotel, Makati City

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

I would like to thank to the People’s Republic of China, the Bank of China, Alibaba, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) for organizing today’s launch of the China International Import Export Expo (or CIIE) information mission.

Likewise, thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak here today on how the CIIE can not only help boost Philippine-China trade, but also deepen the two countries’ trade relationship as well.

CH International Trade

Today’s event is actually the first leg of the CIIE information mission—entitled “Your Gateway to the China Market”’—and this is also expected to visit the cities of Cebu and Davao on March 20 and 23, respectively.

To be held on November 5-10 this year in Shanghai, China, the CIIE is a major international event that reiterates China’s strong support for trade liberalization, as well as their way to actively open the Chinese market to the world.

Because of this, the expo is the only trade show in China to date that will feature foreign exhibitors—and no China companies—on the exhibit floor. However, there will be Chinese buyers present, as well as buyers from all over the world at the event.

  • At the CIIE, the focus will mainly be on importation of goods and services to China, with the 6 exhibitions areas featuring trade in goods. These include: High-end Intelligent Equipment; Consumer Electronics & Appliances; Automobile; Apparel, Accessories & Consumer Goods; Food & Agricultural Products; Medical Equipment & Medical Care Products.
  • There will also be a section for trade in services comprising Tourism Services, Emerging Technologies, Culture & Education, Creative Design, and Service Outsourcing.

For the Philippines, the CIIE will be the biggest ever overseas trade fair that our country will participate in, with over 100 Philippine product and service exporters, as well as investors and government representatives attending the event.

PH-CH Trade Engagements

The participation of Philippine companies in CIIE marks another step in the growth story of the Philippine-China trade and investment relations, as well as the continuing benefits of President Rodrigo Duterte’s independent foreign policy.

From President Duterte’s 2016 state visit to China to the convening of the Philippines-China Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC) last year, we have constantly sought to widen our trade engagements with China.

  • For example, there is China’s support for infrastructure priority projects like the Chico River Pump Irrigation project, as well as the assistance for earthquake-stricken Surigao worth US$ 1B and the purchase agreement of US$1.7B-worth of agricultural products.
  • We likewise saw several Letters of Intent (LOI) signed last year for potential private sector investment that would result in an estimated US$10.4B-worth of investment and some 11,500 new jobs for Filipinos.
  • There was also the Philippines-China SME Cross-Border Business Matching held last March 2017 that generated a total of 635 matches between Filipino and Chinese enterprises.

Thanks to these efforts, we are now building on the progress that we’ve achieved, even as Filipino businesses take advantage of the opportunities in working with their Chinese counterparts.

PH-CH Bilateral Trade

That’s why it’s no surprise that as of 2017, China was our top trading partner with a total bilateral trade valued at US$ 23.82B billion, and they’ve also become our 4th biggest export market and our top import source.

  • Our exports to China last year included: storage units (US$ 1.26B); digital monolithic integrated circuits (US$ 1.12B); nickel ores and concentrates (US$ 494.35M); semiconductor devices (US$ 329.74M); and coal (US$ 296.14M).
  • In fact, our total exports to China increased by 9.73% due to the increase in the exports of digital monolithic integrated circuits (68.89%), and cathodes and sections of cathodes of refined copper (566.87%).
  • Meanwhile, Philippine imports from China grew by 8.14%. These include: petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (64.66%); parts and accessories of automatic data processing machines (126.62%); and materials, accessories, and supplies for the manufacture of electrical and electronic machinery, equipment and parts (112.30%), among others.

CH Market Opportunities

But even with our current trade engagements, the opportunities for trade between Philippines and China can be so much greater.

In 2017, China’s total external trade reached US$ 4.1045T with China’s exports and imports increasing by 7.9% and 15.9% (in terms of US dollars), respectively. This has resulted in a trade surplus of US$422.5B for China.

  • China’s population in 2017 is almost 1.4B, with an increase of almost 125M since 2000. With China rapidly urbanizing, more than half of all Chinese today live in urban areas and up to 70% are expected to be urbanites by 2030. This is an massive increase from the less than 20% of China’s population as recently as of 1980.
  • We’d also like to note that China is ageing at a rapid pace. In 2017, the median age was 37.9 years—7.6 years greater than the figure for 2000—and it will be 41.9 years by 2030, or well above the regional average.
  • Lastly, I ask our Filipino friends and partners from the private sector to note that it’s impossible to ignore the huge US$ 10T Chinese market due to their rapid growth of consumption and imports. Accessing this market will surely leap frog the level of business transactions between the Philippines and China.

While we all know that China continues to play an important and influential role in the global economy, we foresee even greater opportunities to drive the level of Philippine-China transactions higher with trade events like the CIIE.


In closing, I would like to reiterate how the CIIE can serve as an important opportunity to showcase the trade capabilities of the Philippines, as well as investment opportunities available between our two countries.

At the same time, while this trade event will give our Filipino businesses access to the huge China market, it will certainly help deepen the bilateral trade relations between the Philippines and China.

More importantly, this engagement shows how warm relations are between our two countries—a vast improvement from the past years—and underlines the strong ties of friendship between the Philippines and our good friend and neighbor, China.

That’s why the Philippine government—and specifically, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)—remains committed to fortifying and supporting this relationship through the appropriate combination of policy, trade, and investment decisions.

We also hope that China will continue partnering with us to help push President Duterte’s socio-economic agenda to create inclusive growth and shared prosperity, from promoting MSME development to supporting our “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

I am confident that with the solid friendship between the Philippines and China, our two countries can better manage today’s political and economic challenges—even as we benefit from the increased access in trade and investment with each other.

Thank you very much and mabuhay!♦